Metaphysical Supply Shop Finds Bliss with Magento Integration

eXcelisys Brings Tranquility to Crystal Vaults by Linking Inventory Database to Magento Webstore

Crystal ball surrounded by healing crystals

As an informational website and webstore, Crystal Vaults enjoys a rock-steady flow of visitors. Some 8 million people a year come to Crystal Vaults to learn about the power of crystal energy and browse the healing crystals, amulets, talismans, pendants, earrings and other natural crystal creations for sale on the Magento eCommerce site.

A few years into the venture, Crystal Vaults owner Hank Mason hit a stone wall with his e-business software and hired eXcelisys to devise a tincture. Mason was managing operations with one of eXcelisys’ free, downloadable eX-Files, but needed more capability.

After eXamining processes, eXcelisys dug in, completing a Magento integration to handle multichannel sales by connecting the Crystal Vault’s eCommerce site with its inventory and ordering system.

A Gem of an Idea

A retired U.S. Air Force helicopter pilot, Mason opened Crystal Vaults in 2006 in Bunnell, Florida. He started the business as a way to engage area teens in an activity that would give them purpose. Mason figured if he could turn a profit, he could pay the teens for their work.

At Crystal Vaults, every item is one-of-a-kind and must be assessed, measured, weighed, photographed and packaged before being added to the inventory database and website. When a crystal-filled box arrives from overseas, the teens go through the loose stock, cataloging each item and writing detailed product descriptions.

Early on, Mason downloaded a complimentary copy of the eXcelisys BizTracker and used it to run the business. The eX-BizTracker is a jump-start FileMaker Pro template. It comes pre-built with the basic features most businesses need to manage the goods and services they sell.

“I used the free version for a while, then needed more capability,” said Mason. That’s when he hired eXcelisys and began working with Doug West, eXcelisys VP for product development, who modified the eX-BizTracker to fit the unique needs of Crystal Vaults.

The Crystal Tracker

Mason relies on the Crystal Vaults BizTracker to manage the inventory, customer base, sales, vendors and order fulfillment at his Magento webstore. “Every single piece of information about my business is in the BizTracker,” said Mason, noting that the Crystal Vaults BizTracker handles all goods on the way in and on the way out.

Magento Integration Works Like a Charm

eXcelisys linked the Crystal Vaults BizTracker to the Crystal Vaults Magento webstore to allow for quick communication between the website and inventory database.

As such, the Magento integration speeds order processing. Before the eXcelisys solution was built, Mason had to go to the Magento webstore, grab the order information, then copy and paste it into the database. Now, Mason goes directly to the Crystal Vaults BizTracker dashboard and imports the orders from the website with the click of a button. “I was spending an hour or two a day copying and entering the orders into the database by hand,” said Mason. “It felt endless, and that’s what I did not want it to be. Automation made life easier.”

Benefits of BizTracker-Magento Integration

  • Manages multichannel sales in real-time. Crystal Vaults sells products on its own site, on ebay, and through Amazon. The Magento integration seamlessly handles sales and customers converting on these multiple marketplaces. Inventory management is quick because employees can go to the “Magento Import” button on the home screen of the BizTracker to pull in new orders, so the inventory is updated quickly. “All order information is in the database,” said Mason. “I can see what people have bought and know what inventory I have in real-time.”
  • Aids data entry. Product details are prepared in the Crystal Vaults BizTracker database before posting to Magento.

Employees prepare product details in the BizTracker database (above), then post them to the Magento webstore (below). The Magento integration allows for quick communication between the webstore and the inventory database. After a customer purchases an item in their shopping cart, the order information can be accessed immediately in the database, allowing for quick order processing and real-time inventory control.

Other Favorite Features of the Crystal Vaults BizTracker:

  • PO System: “Crystal Vaults has a heavy PO system,” said West, noting that a purchase order includes lot tracking. Because Magento lacks PO components, the FileMaker Pro-based BizTracker assists in this area.
  • Reports: The Crystal Vaults BizTracker is configured to create specialized Excel reports for investors. Crystal Vaults is a direct seller and a reseller, so the business must track sales and processing fees for vendors.

eXcelisys Makes the Cut

Since the initial “crystal tracker” went live in 2010, Crystal Vaults has relied on eXcelisys to tweak and maintain tech operations. Recently, eXcelisys completed a server upgrade. Mason appreciates working with eXcelisys because, he says, eXcelisys developers “can make the database do whatever I need it to do.” He loves that the Crystal Vaults BizTracker can make labels, bring in orders with the punch of a button, and build the reports he needs.

“What I like about working with eXcelisys is you are talking straight to the developer as opposed to an intermediary. You go straight to the eXpert. A lot of places, you call customer service and talk to someone about your needs. Then, there’s the person in the back room who does the work. You never talk to the ‘crew chief.’ But with eXcelisys, you go right to the person who actually built it and knows how to make it do what you want it to do. Cutting out the middle-man interface is a big deal.” 

Crystal Vaults founder/owner Hank Mason


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At a Glance: Crystal Vaultscrystal vaults box

What: Crystal Vaults sells healing crystals and gemstones.

Where: Based in Bunnell, FL

Fun Fact: The Crystal Vaults website is home to the Crystal Metaphysical Encyclopedia, a reference guide twice the length of War and Peace. This illustrated guide offers detailed information on different stones, their healing energies, metaphysical properties and uses.

 

Tech Specs: the eXcelisys Workplace Innovation Solution

What: eXcelisys BizTracker modification for inventory/order management with Magento integration, offering quick communication between the Magento webstore and inventory database.

Technologies: FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server, Magento, ODBC (Open Database Connectivity), Integration with FileMaker ESS (External SQL Sources)

Challenge: Each product is unique and must be prepared individually before being offered for sale in the Magento webstore. The order processing workflow in Magento is too generic and allows for important steps to be overlooked in the fulfillment process. Managing orders and products in different systems is tedious and error-prone.

Solution: The FileMaker-based “Crystal Tracker” does it all — it keeps track of all transactions, sales, inventory and suppliers, handling all goods on the way in and on the way out.

Results:
Order processing times slashed: Orders can be imported from the Magento webstore directly into the Crystal Vaults BizTracker via the Dashboard. Before, Crystal Vault employees had to go to the webstore, then copy and paste the order information into the database.

 – Improved inventory control: Employees go to the “Magento Import” button on the home screen of the BizTracker to pull in new orders,  allowing the inventory to be quickly updated to reflect actual sales.